After a momentous accident over a year ago, nothing is as it was for Shawn Bradley. The former German national basketball player sits in a wheelchair, his 2.29 m create many additional hurdles.
The signal rings every three hours during the night. Shawn Bradley has to change his position in bed to avoid getting sore, to do this the eight-foot-tall man uses straps attached to his knees. There is no other way. The nurse does not come until the morning to freshen it up for the day.
Bradley, a former NBA professional who also briefly played basketball for the German national team, has been paraplegic for over a year. In addition to the enormous challenges that the stroke of fate brought with it, the 49-year-old has to overcome additional hurdles because of his size. What was its advantage in sport is a burden in the new everyday life. Even the hospital bed was far too short for him.
“Am I going to die slowly?”
A trip on January 20, 2021 changed everything. A few blocks from his home in St. George, Utah, Bradley was, as is so often the case, on his racing bike, a custom-made bike that was custom-made for his size, when a van hit him while overtaking a parked car. At almost 30 km / h he crashed into the standing Saturn Sedan and fell headlong onto the asphalt. His helmet broke. “Am I going to die slowly?” Bradley wondered when he was lying on the floor unable to move.
He survived, but his spinal cord was pinched by dislocated vertebrae. Bradley is paralyzed from the chest down but can use his arms. He has only been living at home with his wife Carrie and Haylie, Dubbie and Max, whom he adopted, since November. Bradley also has six children of his own from his first marriage.
Bradley completed his rehab in Dallas, where he once played with Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks. When he visited him with club boss Mark Cuban, it was difficult. “The first time people I’m very close to see me like this, it’s emotional,” Bradley told Sports Illustrated. After that he always feels “extremely drained”.
Bradley doesn’t give up, but …
Bradley now weighs almost 160 pounds. His wheelchair, like the “custom made” bike, cost $ 8,000. Money is not a problem, the former “Big Man” earned a good $ 70 million in his career. At some point, the family plans to move to Dallas into a new house that is better suited to Bradley’s needs. He needs more space.
He is currently being lifted out of bed into a wheelchair with a small crane, which takes 15 minutes. In the evening it works the other way round, but that should stop, Bradley wants to do it without help. “We all think it’s possible,” said Bradley: “We’re not there yet – but we will get there.”
Bradley, the son of a German mother and a US soldier, was born in Landstuhl, Palatinate, and is not always so positive. “Maybe it would be better if it were all over,” sometimes haunted my mind: “These thoughts creep in – and they are real. I can’t imagine reacting to them, but I definitely have them.”